Blue Jackets Associate Head Coach Pascal Vincent Talks Power Play

By Coby Maeir on February 22, 2023 at 1:45 pm
Patrik Laine celebrates after scoring a goal in the Blue Jackets vs. Coyotes game.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Around half of the NHL's teams have two players with the same handedness at the point and at the one-timer spot on their respective power plays.

With Zach Werenski being ruled out for the season after suffering a torn labrum on Nov. 10, Adam Boqvist, Nick Blankenburg, and Marcus Bjork have been the point men on the power play. Right now, Boqvist runs the point, Patrik Laine is the one-timer at the left circle, Johnny Gaudreau runs the half-wall on the right side, Kirill Marchenko is in the bumper spot, and Boone Jenner is in front of the net.

I spoke to Blue Jackets associate coach Pascal Vincent about whether or not handedness matters on the power play, and more. 

Vincent said that the handedness of the players definitely matters.

"[Patrik Laine] is a right-hand shot and Boqvist is a right-hand shot," Vincent said. "So when Boqvist gets the puck, there are two things we need to consider being a right-hand shot [passing] to a right-hand shot. There are different ways to feed that shooter that is [Laine], but a bit more technical is we look at the velocity and spin of the puck. So [having] a right-hand shot to a right-hand shot, it's easier for [Laine] to unload a shot. But when we have [Werenski], a lefty to a righty, it's also a different angle for [Laine] to receive it and shoot the puck. But it's a different spin, so it's a different kind of shot. [It's the] same motion and everything but it's a different adjustment."

Vincent also talked about how Gaudreau's role has evolved throughout the season.

"What we've done recently is we kind of unlocked Johnny Gaudreau a little bit," Vincent said. "Giving him more room to be creative. We wanted to establish some kind of foundation with him. And now that [we've] gotten used to it and now [that] he behaves on the ice and [is] understanding his behaviors on the power play, we felt like we would be better if we let him be a little bit more creative within the system."

With Gaudreau coming to Columbus after eight full seasons in Calgary, Vincent said he's had to adjust to a new system.

"He's played with the same people for years in Calgary," Vincent said. "So he had that kind of chemistry with those people. But the other thing is [that] he was on [the left] side as a lefty. He could go downhill. He could attack the middle. He could just curl and attack. So you had the weak side close to the boards. He could attack inside the dot lane. But, he was used to [being on the left side]. With [Laine], that's his position, so he needed to adjust there."

Vincent also said he wants the team to play as a unit of five on the power play. 

"We want to be interchangeable," Vincent said. "All of them."

With Werenski returning next season, Vincent wants that internal competition for the point spot on the power play.

"[Werenski] is obviously an amazing defenseman," Vincent said. "But we want to have guys like [Boqvist] to push him. So, if something happens, we have different options."

Is Vincent concerned about the fact that Werenski is a lefty?

"I'm not concerned," Vincent said. "Zach Werenski can make plays."